PGCert in Pastoral Care: Existential and Humanist Practice

Course Description

This new PG Cert. in Pastoral Care: Existential and Humanist Practice is a 1 year blended learning course designed to prepare students for a career in pastoral care. It provides a broad experience in pastoral care including:

  • Humanist UK Celebrant Qualification
  • Advanced practice skills
  • Work experience in a placement setting
  • Philosophical understanding of existential and humanist practice

The PG Cert assumes no prior knowledge or experience, building your skills from the ground up. You will start with core competencies such as active listening, and it builds to a ceremonies training, as well as explicitly existential skills. Theoretical learning includes worldviews and belief systems, secular life, different religions and diverse societies, and a grounding in existential philosophy.

 The programme aims to prepare students to:

1.     become competent, skilled professional pastoral carers practicing with a theoretical understanding of existential and humanist care.

2.     have experienced and practiced pastoral care within diverse settings with a range of people with different needs.

3.     critically evaluate and reflect upon their own work within the context of society and its inherent injustices.


The course leader is Dr Elizabeth Young.

For further information on possible learning adaptions, we can offer neurodivergent students and students with a disability or chronic health condition, contact [email protected]

Application Deadlines:

  • September Cohorts - application deadline is the 1st August

Programme of Study

Year 1 [7 units]

  1. Skills in Pastoral Care: Basic Skills [face to face learning]
  2. Philosophical Worldviews, Religions and Belief Systems
  3. Existential Perspectives on Human Issues
  4. Skills in Pastoral Care: Advanced skills [face to face learning]
  5. Skills in Pastoral Care: Supervised Practice 
  6. Pastoral Care Settings, Celebrancy & Ceremonies: Introduction to ceremonies
  7. Pastoral Care Settings, Celebrancy & Ceremonies: Celebrant Practice [face to face learning]

Accreditation and Careers

This programme is quality assured by Middlesex University and you will receive a Middlesex award on successful completion. You can view the Middlesex Research Degree Regulations here.

Graduates can expect to work across a range of sectors including education, healthcare, the prison service and the armed forces. In addition, the PG Cert provides probationary accreditation as a Humanist UK funeral, wedding and naming celebrant. Partial APEL is possible for students who are already qualified as a Humanist UK celebrant for all three ceremonies.

Fees 2024-25

Year of course 

Units to be completed in year 

Fee payable per year  

(if no units have to be repeated) 

7 units over 3 terms 


1 (Qualified Celebrants) 

6 units over 3 terms 

3 days of Pastoral Care Settings, Celebrancy & Ceremonies: Celebrant Practice Unit 




Validated Courses Additional Charges  

Application Fee 

£50 non-refundable 

Acceptance Deposit 

£100 which will be deducted from the initial invoice when you start the course. It is non-refundable if you do not start. 


Fee is only applicable if your claim for prior learning is approved and will replace the tuition fee for that unit. 

£200 per submission 

Instalment Plan 

£20 per Unit 

Late changes to Course Plan  


Professional registration 

At own expense  


At own expense 


Please note: Students on validated programmes are not eligible for Student Finance or DSA

Entry Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree in any subject (equivalent experience may be acceptable)
  • Fluent English: IELTS level 7 or above in all categories (or equivalent)
  • Personal suitability to be determined at interview
  • Reliable internet connection
  • A clear DBS check or equivalent

How You Study

The course is delivered via blended learning. This consists of online theory modules via Moodle, face-to-face skills modules in NW London, online research supervision and online supervision of practice.

Theory modules are asynchronous, except for a weekly chat to be decided between group members. Students work through weekly materials online, posting and discussing in the forum with the group and tutor.

Face-to-face skills modules take place over 5 consecutive days at The Existential Academy in NW London. There are 3 face to face modules over the year.

Placement supervision is provided via group online support on a weekly basis in term 3.

With 30% of attendance carried out face-to-face, this course is easy to fit around a busy life, and is accessible to those living far from London or with caring commitments.

Students may take up to 4 years to complete should they need additional time.

MIddlesex University